One of the most complicated and contentious issues that can arise during a divorce is custody of a child. While there are a number of factors that must be considered by both parents and the courts, ultimately the decision will come down to what is in the best interests of the child. An experienced St. Louis family law lawyer can help both parents find a solution that works for their unique situation.
While it is always best for parents to be able to work together, sometimes that is simply not possible. When this occurs, both parties should draft a parenting plan to submit to the court. This will outline how the children will be split and who will have decision-making authority. This will be subject to approval by the judge who oversees the case.
The court will also determine the type of physical custody, if any, that is best for the child. This will depend on who is able to provide the most stable and safe environment for the child. Generally speaking, judges favor joint legal custody where both parents share equal rights to make decisions regarding the children’s health care, education and welfare. However, in cases where it is deemed to be in the child’s best interest that only one parent have sole legal custody, the judge may grant this to that party.
In the case of physical custody, the judge will decide with which parent the child will live primarily. This will depend on a number of different factors including the ability of both parents to raise and care for the children, each parent’s relationship with the children, the history of each home, whether either parent has grandparents who would like visitation rights, and any other relevant considerations. Generally speaking, the courts will favor shared physical custody where the children will spend time with each parent on a roughly equal basis.
If a judge feels that it is not in the child’s best interest to have contact with one parent, it is entirely possible that they will order that parent to be prohibited from visiting or having access to the child. This can be based on a number of different grounds including evidence of domestic violence, criminal convictions and the presence of other dangerous individuals in that person’s household.
A knowledgeable child custody attorney can assist in resolving any child custody related issue. It is important to choose an attorney who has a thorough understanding of both state and federal laws surrounding this sensitive area. During the consultation process, it is important to ask questions and receive detailed information about how the attorney plans to approach your case. It is also helpful to learn how long the attorney has been practicing family law and specifically child custody, as well as their standing with their bar association.